Sunday 10 February 2013

Mexico’s president Peña Nieto received mysterious “donations”

A park in Mexico City: some land is worth more than others
Two weeks ago Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, disclosed his assets.

Unfortunately the attempt at transparency has only raised more questions, and suspicions that he may have received gifts in return for unspecified political favours.

According to public records, the president has a number of bank accounts and no debt. He also has “coins and metals”, but no one knows how much.

And he has no less than nine real estate holdings. Two were bought outright – one in 1982, and another in 2005. He inherited an apartment in 2001. Then, most mysteriously, he has two houses and four properties that were “donated” to him.

No one, it seems, can figure out who “donated” these properties, or what Peña Nieto’s relationship is with these mysterious donors. This is because though Mexican law stipulates that all assets must be revealed, confidentiality can be assured as to their sources, if desired.

Of concern are the properties donated after 2006, when Peña Nieto was governor of the populous horseshoe-shaped State of Mexico that caps the Federal District. At that time Peña Nieto was switching gear to run for president.

In 2009, for example, 2,547 square meters of land were donated to the future president, but the official declaration doesn’t say who gave it to him or where it is. If its scrub in Oaxaca, it’s not worth much, but if it’s a lot in Lomas de Chapultepec, that’s another matter.

Then, on one day – December 8, 2011 – the president received three properties: a house of 150 square meters; another house of 338 square meters; and a large tract of land measuring 58,657 square meters.

Interestingly, on that date the future president also received art and jewelry. Again, we don’t know who gave these gifts, and we don’t know their worth: hundreds of dollars, or millions?

Not surprisingly, Peña Nieto is not the only politician to be receiving gifts. Other than the Attorney General, everyone on Peña Nieto’s cabinet has decided to make their asset disclosures “semi-private”. Some examples:

David Korenfeld.  The newly-minted head of the National Water Commission received a Range Rover last year.  And in 2,000, someone gave him jewelry – of what value, and from whom, we have no idea.

Enrique Martínez. The Secretary of Agriculture has been given four plots of land. Size, value, source unknown.

Julián Olivas. This is the Secretary of the Civil Service, the very person who processes and oversees financial disclosure reports. He’s received land and a house.

Alfonso Navarrete. Among the Secretary of Labour’s eleven properties, one was donated.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu. Only three days before she began her six year term, the Secretary of Tourism was given 1,000 square meters of land.

For an historical, pre-election analysis of Mexico's new president, read Pretty-boy Peña Nieto would be a disaster for Mexico.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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